Film has been called the major art form of the twentieth century. Critics, governments and audiences alike in the passed eighty years have legitimized that statement. And like all art forms, it really cannot be taught. You may go to school like I did to study film, and that’s all very fine. But all your instructors can do is supply you with the tools to read films, and to construct your own. These two very basic principles are co-dependant upon one another. If you cannot read a film, understand its narrative, visual illusions, historic place, cultural significance or critical worth to the medium on your own, then there is no chance that your own film will be any good.
That is a major problem today. With television and online media filmic literacy has dropped tremendously. If you are in the business of making films you are in the business of studying them. Sure, these different mediums inform one another or barrow from one another, but no more so than film barrowed and continue to barrow from literature, painting and photography. So it becomes essential that you watch films, all kinds from all places as much as possible. You have to use the tools you paid for and your instructors gave you. Chances are, if your films are bad, you’re simply not watching enough films.
This isn’t a call to cease watching television or YouTube. I am simply asking that you make time for the cinema if that is a field in which you work. If you don’t like subtitles or title cards, too bad, you have to watch those films as well. If you decide not to, start looking for a new field to work in.
I will be the first to admit that I sound like snob up here on my soap box, but so what? This is a major problem that is debilitating the field to which I have dedicated my life. No one is making you read this anyway. This is America, the most powerful country in the world. If knowledge is power, it doesn’t look like we, as a nation will be all that powerful much longer.